6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment
|6th Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry|
Flag of Minnesota
|Active||September 29, 1862, to August 19, 1865|
The 6th Regiment, Minnesota Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that fought in the Union army during the American Civil War. The 6th Minnesota spent much of the war in the Northwest fighting Dakota Indians rather than participating in the battles with the Confederacy.
The 6th Minnesota was part of second wave of enlistments following the early battles of the Civil War. The regiment was not immediately sent South because the Army hoped for a quick victory. Because it had not yet mustered out for Federal service, members of the regiment participated in the US-Dakota War of 1862, which erupted in the late summer of 1862. Men from the 6th Minnesota fought the Battle of Birch Coulee, the worst defeat suffered by US forces during the war. Survivors of Birch Coulee defeated Dakota soldiers in the decisive Battle of Wood Lake a few weeks later. At the end of September, they also witnessed the surrender of the Dakota at Camp Release.
After the Dakota War ended, the 6th Minnesota remained on the frontier and prepared for possible further fighting with American Indians, who had been forced to leave Minnesota following the US-Dakota War. During the summer of 1863, under the command of Henry Sibley, the 6th Minnesota pursued and fought bands of American Indians in the Dakota territory. They pushed them west across the Missouri River and north into Canada. They then returned to Fort Snelling. They continued on garrison duty in Minnesota and to the Westthroughout the winter and spring of 1863–1864.
By the spring of that year, the men of the 6th Minnesota successfully argued that they should be sent to the South. They found garrison duty boring and wanted to fight in the war for which they enlisted. Finally, that summer, on June 14, 1864, they left Fort Snelling to go South. The regiment was sent to Helena, Arkansas, where disease began to take its toll. The regiment lost more men to disease than it did in battle. In Arkansas, the regiment observed guerrilla forces in the region but participated in no battles. After a few months, the men were sent to St. Louis and then to New Orleans and then Alabama.
In Alabama, the 6th Minnesota stormed Fort Blakely in one of the last battles of the War. They then guarded Montgomery and waited to be mustered out.
The 6th Minnesota Infantry suffered 12 enlisted men killed in action or who later died of their wounds, plus another 4 officers and 161 enlisted men who died of disease, for a total of 177 fatalities.
- Colonel William Crooks – August 23, 1862, to October 28, 1864.
- Colonel John T. Averill – November 22, 1864, to September 30, 1865.
- Andrews, C. C., ed. (1891). Minnesota in the Civil and Indian Wars 1861–1865. St. Paul, Minn: Printed for the state by the Pioneer Press Co.
- Minnesota Historical Society Site on Minnesota and the Civil War
- The Civil War Archive
- History of Company E of the Sixth Minnesota Regiment of Volunteer Infantry at Project Gutenberg